Futures

Have been bitten by the code bug – again – which made for a great Xmas-NwYears holiday. Inbetween decorating, visiting, cooking and eating (all very fine) I did code. Which for me is very exiting and satisfying stuff.

So what happened? Well, I’ve been studying the question of how we have been shaping the Netherlands over the centuries, and can we use the strategies that have been proven over time to deal with the problems climate change will bring. Less abstractly formulated: will we be able to keep our feet dry in a future where the land subsides and the sea rises – are the ‘old’ strategies still valid, or do we need new ones?

Anyways, during my reasearch I came across a lot of visions for the future of the Netherlands, published by Dutch governmental and non-governmental organisations alike. Fom Rijkswaterstaat (more dikes) to the Dutch association of Bicycle Riders (more bicyle paths) to the flex-workers organisation Randstad (more opportunities for flex-workers) – everyone who is anyone has ideas about the future of the Netherlands and is vocal about it.

I’d been toying for a while with formats that mix these visions – present them random and side by side, as it were. The breakthrough idea was to turn to WordPress (the software behind this blog) as an engine to do this. Add a little – actually, quite a lot – of PHP and voila: I have made an app that visualises our future as a nation.

The reason I turned to PHP is that I wanted things to be very very simple, and navigable by clicking on images only. Which was a challenge, as standard WordPress does not allow for this. So I taught myself a lot about the WordPress engine, mostly by trial-and-error, which was fun

At NL_MIX one can now mix at least 30 different visions to form one image, like the one above. One can also see the future Netherland as seen from the point of view of single interests like Work, Nature, Infrastructure, …. It turns out that different interests actually do have (visually) different futures in mind … which is interesting!

I worked with texts, too – did NL_MATCH that mixes two sentences at random every ten seconds. Giving a bizarre twist to sentences that were often a bit bizarre to begin with.

The idea is to eventually present both apps in one installation that shows images and reads text snippets aloud.

Also learned how to make my app behave differently on a mobile or desktop screen. And learned more than I wished to know about how caching on an Iphone works and how to direct this. All in – many rewarding hours spent.

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